Saturday, August 15, 2020

Ireland passes bill prohibiting trade with illegal settlements

By Maria Correia - July 12, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [settlements]

A bill that prohibits “the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories” has passed in Ireland.
The bill is also known as The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories Bill); independent Senator Frances Black put it forward already in January 2018.
In January, voting on the legislation was indefinitely postponed due to pressure from Israel.
The main opposition party of Ireland, Fianna Fáil, decided last week to officially back the bill, along with some independent members of the Government. The Irish government opposed it.
Although the Irish Government continuously speaks against settlements, it does not support the legislation. The Attorney General has stated that the new law would go against EU trading regulations.
The Irish Senate met on Wednesday afternoon to vote on the bill. The vote came to a tight 25-20 in favour. Though the bill has now passed, it still has to go through several stages of reviews before becoming a law.
The bill has caused widespread controversy from Israel and within Ireland. The Ireland-Israel Alliance linked the bill on twitter as a demonstration of the ”very dark underbelly of anti-Semitism in Ireland.”
Israel’s embassy issued a Press Release regarding the bill, calling it ’immoral’, and a potential creator of terrorism and increased division between Israel and Palestine.
The release stated: ”Legislation, which promotes a boycott of any kind, should be rejected as it does nothing to achieve peace but rather empowers the Hamas terrorists as well as those Palestinians who refuse to come to the negotiating table.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry also criticized the bill, claiming the law would have “negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East.”  The ministry also added it was still contemplating its response to the legislation.
Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on foreign affairs, Niall Collins, issued a statement prior to the vote: “[…] it is my view that Ireland passing the Occupied Territories Bill has the potential to send a strong message that the issue of illegal settlements is being taken seriously and needs to be addressed.”
Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation called it a ”courageous step” that builds on Ireland’s and Palestine’s historic past, as well as setting ”the way forward for the rest of the European Union.”
The Joint List, an Arab Knesset party, has also praised the bill. In a press statement, the party called the bill a “welcome and legally correct step.”
They hope that the passing of the bill would start off a time where “Israel starts to pay and international, political, economic and moral price for its actions’.
Ireland is currently importing produce from settlements; these products include fruits and vegetables, wine, and beauty products.
If the bill becomes law, it would mark the first time a EU member state has banned commercial activity from illegal settlements.
Presently, according the 2015 EU labelling regulations, these products are required to be labelled as produced in illegal settlements.

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